Clear Lake

Ultimate 4wd destination: Clear Lake in CO

Clear Lake is an alpine turquoise lake at an elevation of 3.653m (11,984ft) above the sea level, located in San Juan County, in the U.S. state of Colorado. Be sure to have experience in back roads if you attempt this trail. The drive is not for the faint of heart.

Can you drive to Clear Lake in CO?

The road to the lake is totally unpaved. It’s called Forest Road 815 (Clear Lake Road). Starting at Forest Road 585, the road is 7.08km (4.4 miles) long. It does require a high-clearance vehicle, preferably with four-wheel drive. The road is very narrow, steep, and with several tight switchbacks. The trail has steep drop offs that are scary for a novice. At the summit there is plenty of designated parking, so do not park on the grass.

Is the road to Clear Lake in Colorado open?

Set high in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado, the road is open from late-May to late-November only. It’s one of the highest roads of Colorado. Along the way there are some signs of old mining activity. It’s a favorite drive for its beauty and its gorgeous wildflower and waterfall access.

Is the road to Clear Lake in Colorado steep?

The road to the lake is very steep, hitting a 16% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Starting at Forest Road 585, the ascent is 7.08km (4.4 miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 667 meters. The average gradient is 9.42%. It’s a hairy ascent to the magical lake in the basin above. This is not for the faint of heart. The reward at the top is worth the back-sweating and neck-craning though.
Pic: Dale Hall



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